Playing games? Smith refuses to rule out retirement

CAMERON Smith insists he wants to play on at Melbourne in 2019 but has again refused to confirm that Sunday’s grand final against the Sydney Roosters won’t be his last NRL match.

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A week after dropping a bombshell that he could consider retiring alongside Billy Slater if the Storm win back-to-back titles with a victory on Sunday, the Melbourne captain steered away from the topic in Thursday’s joint press conference.

With coach Craig Bellamy beside him adamant he wanted the superstar hooker to remain at the club next year, Smith again pushed home the fact he remains unsigned for 2019 when asked about last week’s comments and if he would retire if the Storm won.

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“I don’t have a contract for next year. I don’t know,” Smith said. “I worry about this week and preparing well. Hopefully helping the team prepare well and go out and play well on the weekend.

“That’s all I asked to do for my coaches and teammates and whatever happens after the year will happen.” Pushed on whether he wanted another contract, Smith said: “I’ve said this year several times that I would like to play on next year but at the moment I’m not in that situation.” Bellamy claimed he hadn’t spoken with Smith about his future since Friday’s press conference, but admitted he’d be mad not to want to the former Kangaroos captain at the club next year.

The 35-year-old has played a record 383 NRL games, and will almost certainly become the first to pass the 400-mark if he plays on in 2019. He still shows no real signs of letting up, and has been just as influential in the Storm’s run to this year’s grand final as he has in their other seven appearance during his tenure with the team.

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However some have argued the fact he retired from representative football at such short notice earlier this year gives some credence to the suggestion he could retire with a win.

“He knows I want him to play on, but it’s up to Cam and his management and our club have to come to some sort of agreement,” Bellamy said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Cameron going on is the best thing for our club.

“I want him to play on and I can’t see any reason why he can’t go on for another couple of years to be quite honest, but at his age he will go year by year. “We all know what he has done for the game and our club and the sides he has played for and he is still playing as well as he has ever played. “I’d be an idiot if I didn’t want him to play on next year.”

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